Justice chief says he is not aware of 5 inmate-witnesses’ petition for pardon, clemency

MANILA -– Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Tuesday he is not aware of the pending applications for pardon or executive clemency of five of the 12 inmates of the New Bilibid Prison who testified during the congressional probe into the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the penitentiary, but vowed to look into it.

“I was never aware of their pending applications. Never brought to my attention but pardoning them was never considered,” Aguirre said in a text message to reporters when sought for comment on the issue.

Asked if he would recommend their pardon or executive clemency, Aguirre said he will have to study it first.

“Don’t know yet. I will study,” he said in the text message.

Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano has disclosed that he wrote a letter to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) dated Oct. 11, inquiring if any of the 12 Bilibid inmates have any pending application for pardon and executive clemency.

According to the Board, Engelberto Durano, Nonilo Arile Andaya, Jaime Patcho, Jojo Baligad and Vicente Sy have submitted their petitions – Durano on Oct. 27, 2015 and Andaya on Jan. 25, 2011. Patcho’s request was returned to the Bureau of Corrections last April 15, while the applications of Baligad and Sy are for verification of pending criminal cases.

Meanwhile, high-profile inmates Rodolfo Magleo, Herbert Colanggo, Noel Martinez, Froilan Trestiza, Hans Anton Tan, Jaybee Sebastian and Peter Co do not have any pending application.

The BPP is under the supervision of the justice secretary, who in turn is under the supervision of the president.

Executive clemency can be granted by the president upon the recommendation of the BPP to pardon convicts, commute their sentences, or defer the implementation of their sentences.

Earlier, Aguirre said the government did not promise anything to the inmates when they decided to reveal what they knew about the illegal drugs trade in the NBP and how millions of drug money allegedly went into the campaign of former justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima. PNA-northboundasia.com